‘Vermin’ row re-ignited between Welwyn Hatfield Conservative and Labour groups
PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 September 2013
A FURIOUS row erupted on Twitter between Welwyn Hatfield’s Tory and Labour politicians.
The unseemly spat broke out online between the official Welwyn Hatfield Conservative account and Welwyn Hatfield Labour leader Kieran Thorpe over alleged swearing about Ed Miliband.
According to The Times newspaper, a Downing Street source had branded Mr Miliband “a f****** **** and a copper-bottomed s***” over the way he marshalled Labour’s voting over proposed intervention in Syria.
Mr Thorpe criticised the language used – but was met with a stinging response from Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives, who claimed, apparently incorrectly, that Mr Thorpe had been “called in” to council authorities over remarks he had previously made about Tories.
The Conservatives tweeted: “Being accused of using gutter language by opposition leader when everyone knows he labelled fellow councillors as ‘vermin’ and was called in.”
It related to comments made by Cllr Thorpe earlier this year when he branded Tories “vermin”, during the county election campaign.
The Welwyn Hatfield Labour leader responded: “I’ll make it simple @WelHatTory
“Ones in the dictionary, one isnt usually broadcast after 9pm. [sic].”
And he accused Conservatives of “living up to their name [vermin].”
Asked to justify his comments, Cllr Thorpe said: “Other than from various elected Conservatives, I received nothing but thanks from the public regarding that comment.”
And asked if he was ‘called in’ he said: “I’m really not sure what the Tory Twitter author is referring to.”
On the subject of swearing during political discourse, Cllr Thorpe said: “I think that in certain times and places, colourful language can potentially inject a sense of realism into often staid political debate.”
But he added: “In this case, however, when the discussion is on committing British forces to war, and the specific words used, it’s not really befitting the high office such comments allegedly came from.”
Jonny Ball, constituency agent for Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives, said: “His [Cllr Thorpe’s] vile comments calling local councillors ‘vermin’ was brought to residents’ attention by the Welwyn Hatfield Times earlier this year.
“It’s a comment he has never apologised for, but in fact, restated several times.”
“We don’t believe there is any room for this type of negative behaviour in local politics.”
Welwyn Hatfield MP and Tory Party Chairman Grant Shapps refused to be drawn on the alleged Downing Street comments.
He said: “What remains a concern is surely the way the Labour leader behaved, putting his own party politics before the national interest.”
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